HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS - Versatile Starkes a major boost in Irmo's turnaround
Playing under Irmo head coach Aaron Brand has truly been a “Gas” for Dedrick Starkes.
The 6-1, 195-pound senior Yellow Jacket has personified Brand’s “All Gas, No Brakes" approach to the game. Whether its forcing turnovers on defense as a linebacker or cornerback or serving as an extra running back, Starkes has played several roles during Irmo’s most successful season in 8 years.
The Yellow Jackets play host to Catawba Ridge in the 2nd round of the Class 5A at 7:30 pm Friday at WC Hawkins Stadium.
“When I 1st came here, I was like ‘Shoot, it doesn’t matter where you play me, I’m going to make a play,” Starkes said.
Brand noticed Starkes’ potential early in his tenure. He believes his system has enabled Starkes to thrive, allowing him to display his aggressiveness and raw athleticism.
“He does a little bit of everything,” Brand said. “On top of being a pretty good football player, he’s a really good kid, also. He’s got a tough background. We try our best not to let him use it as a crutch and he brings it each and every day. We’re on top of him. We treat him like he’s ours, but, at the same time, we hold him super accountable like we do everybody else.”
Brand credits Starkes and quarterback Dylan Williams for their unselfishness, play-making ability and leadership in keeping the team focused.
Those were on display this past Friday in helping the Yellow Jackets rally twice, from trailing 15-0 to failing behind 32-28 after taking the lead.
Williams finished with 127 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns and 107 passing yards and Starkes rushed for 127 yards and a score.
“He’s a big difference,” said Starkes about Brand. “He’s a great coach. Great coach. He makes sure you’re doing everything you’re suppose to do in school and, even on the field, he shows us a lot.”
A victory would send Irmo to the state semifinals for the 1st time since 2010. It would face the winner of South Pointe versus AC Flora at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.